at the Institute for
Looking for a team-building
experience that sizzles? Try cooking. Culinary contests
are popular, thanks to the success of TV cooking shows, says
Austin, Texas-based Cathy Cochran-Lewis, a food consultant and
board member of the Louisville, Ky.-based International Association
of Culinary Professionals. “It’s an incredible bonding experience
to cook and share food together,” she notes.
A growing number of cooking schools are offering programs for
outside groups, such as New York City’s Institute for Culinary
Education in New York City (www.iceculinary.com), which has classes for 12
to 84 participants. (For more choices, see IACP’s listing of member
schools at www.iacp.com.) A typical agenda lets participants cook
for an hour or two, then enjoy their creations and discuss the
experience. Some popular formats to consider:
" Each subgroup cooks a different dish in a full menu and has
to time it so all the food is ready at the appointed time.
" Each group is given a limited amount of time (say, two hours)
to cook a full meal using ingredients provided. Judges select a
winner for each category and award certificates for flavor,
presentation, concept and teamwork.
" Chefs teach groups how to prepare different dishes, then the
groups rearrange, and members have to teach their new groups how to
cook the dish.
Whatever the format, “It’s the easiest team-building event you
could plan,” says Shelley Young, founder/chef instructor at The
Chopping Block in Chicago (www.thechoppingblock.net). “We do all the work.”
Except, of course, the cooking.